My View on Family
One thing I have learned from my parents and grandparents is the importance of family. Growing up in the Chicago suburbs with my parents and two younger brothers, we were constantly surrounded by family. My father's very large family all grew up in a small radius of one another, and holidays and celebrations comprised of dozens and dozens of people, many of whom held different interests and varying foci in life, but none-the-less, they were family.
As I married my husband David and had two children, Sam and Sophie, now 10 and 8, I came to realize even more so the importance and meaning of family. We do all the typical things a family does: eat together, support one another at soccer games and basketball games, camp experiences, movies, board games and so much more. In many ways, we are very much the typical suburban Jewish family, with lots of conflicting activities, precious few family meals, and children who always want to spend more time with their parents while they are young, though I'm certain that will change as they grow older.
However, in many ways, we are quite different from many of the families around us. My family has embraced my rabbinic journey fully, and when one engages me as their rabbi, they also gain a family as well. My children know it is Friday because the Shabbat table is set, challah will be baked, dinner will be served, and many guests will join us. And they would have it no other way. For every holiday, we fill our dining and living rooms with guests, and on the occasion we might be invited elsewhere, our children typically say no, because it wouldn't feel like holiday. They are often found in the sanctuary of my synagogue, either sitting in the pew or wandering the halls with their friends. I have watched as they have helped me to create warm and inviting atmospheres in my congregations, so that others want their children to join as well.
When we make havdalah at the end of Shabbat, or join in Birkat Hamazon after the meals, or insist of Friday night dinner togethers, it is not just I leading the charge. My husband and children are very much my partners in this journey, and for that I am infinitely grateful. Wherever we journey to in the future, we will continue to do it together, embracing life, Judaism and family as we were meant to do.